Monday, August 22, 2011

FW: "Farewell to that false view which identifies church and nation." Sasse



Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 9:06 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: "Farewell to that false view which identifies church and nation." Sasse


So we must have the courage to say farewell to that false view which identifies church and nation. This view is not of the essence of the true Lutheran Church (it is unknown to both Luther and the Confessions); it is rather a late glorification of the concept of a national or state church. This concept existed in embryo already before the Reformation, receiving its fullest development later in regions which were altogether un-Lutheran (Zurich; England), finally breaking through also into Lutheranism. Luther's clear insight into the reality of his own nation as well as others and his sober judgment regarding Herr Omnes [Mr. Everyman] in the church were lost. And when Pietism and Rationalism lost all understanding of the church, then the people believed in the nation instead of the church. Since the nineteenth century the cultured German (and this is true of the members of other nations as well) believes in his nation as he should believe in the church of God. Faith in the church is for him an entirely theoretical matter. Faith in his nation is a matter of vital concern. "Thou shalt believe in Germany's future, in the resurrection of your nation." This was actually the tacit Third Article in the years between World Wars I and II. It was also the faith of Lutheran Germans. They did not, of course, give up the confession quod una sancta ecclesia perpetuo mansura sit [that one holy church shall continually abide] (AC VII.1). But no one lived by that confession. Nor would anyone die for it in the way many were ready to die and did die for the confession of faith in Germany. Here perhaps lies the deepest cause of the tragedy of Lutheranism in Germany. Of course they wanted the pure doctrine of the gospel. They wanted the Church of the Lutheran Confession. But when it came to a choice between that which the confession required and that which the national welfare required or seemed to require, then without fail the decision was made in favor of the national requirement and against that of the church. And all this was done under the guise of "Christian love" despite the fact that such action in no way benefited the German nation. This is the cause of the death of the Lutheran Church within the German state-church. And apparently the same is true of the remaining Lutheran Churches of Europe, at least of several of the Nordic churches. May the Lutheran Church in other areas of the world learn from this tragedy what the true church and faith in the church really are, before it is too late.

Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors XII

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